Previous abstract Next abstract
Session 70 - Searching for Other Planetary Systems.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center
Recent efforts to detect and image extrasolar planets and planetary systems have focused on observations in the optical to near--IR wavelength regions. Another region of the spectrum shows promise for ground--based studies, namely the millimeter to submillimeter band, from about 7 mm (43 GHz) to about 350 microns (850 GHz). Observations at these wavelengths will provide direct detection of massive protoplanets and also probe characteristics of disks around young stars. The next generation millimeter--wave and submm--wave synthesis telescope, the Millimeter Array (MMA) is an excellent platform for direct detection of extrasolar giant planets and imaging of extrasolar planetary systems. Once the MMA is equipped with submillimeter receivers of the quality specified for the millimeter--wave receivers, and if the MMA is built on a site comparable with the 5000m site under study in Chile, then the sensitivity of the MMA would be sufficient to detect young giant planets out to many parsecs. The MMA resolution is more than adequate to image both the star and the giant planet in the system. Finally, by observing on the Rayleigh--Jeans side of the emission spectrum from the system, observations with the MMA are aided by the presence of emission from the star (used to maintain coherence) and unaffected by the possible presence of an engulfing zodiacal cloud. Observations of circumstellar and proto--planetary disks made with the MMA and with the upgraded Very Large Array (VLA) will complement the direct detection observations and allow us to understand the formation and evolution of planetary systems. The VLA upgrade includes outfitting all antennas with receivers covering the 40--50 GHz band and a new broadband correlator and signal transmission system. Spectroscopic observations of the proto--planetary systems with these two arrays will reveal for us the chemical structure and evolution of the matter from which planets form.
Program listing for Wednesday